The Tamil Nadu government has recently moved to the Supreme Court challenging the constitutional validity of National Eligibility Cumulative Entrance Test (NEET). NEET is the pre-medical entrance exam for candidates seeking admission to government and private medical colleges in India.
The petition was filed as an original suit under Article 131 of the Constitution, which grants the Supreme Court the authority to hear disputes between the Central Government and one or more States.
The state has argued that the NEET violates federalism by removing the states’ ability to admit students to government seats in medical colleges.
It has been submitted that ‘education’ is a subject on which the state has the authority to pass laws, and that states have the authority to control education for State Universities.
Furthermore, the suit claims that the NEET exam violates the right to equality guaranteed by Article 14 of the Constitution because it has harmed students in Tamil Nadu, particularly those from rural areas and students from Tamil Nadu State Board of Education affiliated schools.
According to the petition, NEET furthers existing inequalities and places students from rural backgrounds educated in State Board Schools at a disadvantage when compared to students from urban and semi-urban areas with more resources.
The suit specifically challenges Section 14 of the National Medical Commission Act, which mandates NEET for admission to all medical institutions’ undergraduate and postgraduate super-specialty medical education.
Similar provisions in the National Commission for Indian System of Medicine Act of 2020 and the National Commission of Homeopathy Act of 2020 have been criticised as well.